Funny word, niggle. It’s one of those words that sounds exactly like the thing it describes – in this case a small, annoying area of discomfort. Just unpleasant enough to merit your attention but not quite up there with the pulls, strains, sprains and tears which inevitably become part of the budding marathon runner’s vocabulary.

Yep, London Marathon time is fast approaching. If you’re taking part you’ll be well into your training by now. If you’re not, you should be if you want to finish faster than the two guys running in the pantomime cow suit. As you increase your weekly mileage quite a few of you will be introduced to our friend Mr Niggle. Clearly, you don’t want it to develop into a fully-fledged strain, sprain or tear. So don’t ignore it.

If you feel any discomfort while training cut your run short and employ the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to manage the acute phase of the injury. Following that make sure you ease back into your training slowly and take the following steps to prevent any further mishaps.

* First, invest in a foam roller and a programme of stretches and learn how to use both properly. Focus on releasing tightness in your hip flexors, illiotibial band, calves, quads and hamstrings.

* Second, incorporate Pilates into your training programme. It will strengthen your abdominals, glutes, inner thighs and upper back. All of these help stabilise your body as you run, improve your overall posture, help you run more efficiently and help you avoid injury.

As your efficiency increases so will your speed. So following these tips won’t just help you get to the start line in one piece – they’ll also help you get over the finish line faster.

Twenty-six miles is a long way. It’s even longer if you’re carrying an injury. So please, respect the niggle.

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